Legislative Hearing Summary
On Tuesday, October 15, Prof. David Jackson, president of the Bowling Green State University chapter of the AAUP, delivered opponent testimony on behalf of the Ohio Conference AAUP to the Ohio Senate Education Committee on Senate Bill 40.
Senate Bill 40, dubbed the “Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act,” also has been called the “campus free speech” bill. However, the bill has very little to do with free speech, and instead wants to impose rules on public institutions of higher education that would force them to host any speaker on campus and would create new mandates that likely would lead to more bureaucracy.
In his testimony, which you can watch below, Dr. Jackson relayed the AAUP’s 1992 statement On Freedom of Expression and Campus Speech Codes, which states, “On a campus that is free and open, no idea can be banned or forbidden. No viewpoint or message may be deemed so hateful or disturbing that it may not be expressed.”
“However,” Jackson said, “there is a substantial difference between banning an idea and disallowing a controversial speaker that would cause massive disruption and create crowds that campus police could not control.”
Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell), one of the primary sponsors of the bill, said a recent poll showed more than 70% of students who identify as Republicans are afraid to disclose their political leanings for fear that it will negatively affect their grades.
In response, Prof. Jackson said that there is a difference between perception and reality, and that polls measure perceptions. He later said that students are not graded on their beliefs, but on their knowledge of the material being taught.
The committee adopted a substitute version of the bill during the hearing, which Sen. Brenner described as being more in line with the companion bill (HB 88) in the House.
Thank you to Dr. Jackson for testifying on behalf of OCAAUP!
To learn more about “campus free speech” legislation, read this report by National AAUP.
We encourage our members to contact members of the Ohio Senate Education Committee to tell them you are opposed to the FORUM Act/”Campus Free Speech” bill.
To e-mail all members of the committee, use the following e-mail addresses:
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Here is a sample message:
Subject: Reject SB 40, the so-called “Campus Free Speech” bill
As a professor at [insert your institution here], I can tell you that there is no problem with free speech on campuses. Ohio’s institutions of higher education are bastions of the free exchange of ideas. Colleges and universities have done well balancing free speech and the safety of our campus communities. SB 40, the so-called FORUM Act or “Campus Free Speech” bill, very simply, is unnecessary.
Please reject SB 40 and allow our institutions to continue operating without new, needless state mandates.
Thank you for your time,